staring up at the ceiling

Salvation by – Which Was That, Again?

A brief comment on some current reading:

Here’s the way the author of a popular and, it appears, controversial “apologetic” text phrases Protestant Christianity’s understanding of salvation:

Salvation comes by way of faith alone, through grace alone in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone!
Thanks to the reformers, we Protestants are pretty much people of the book. Thanks to the Reformation, we pretty much have salvation by faith through grace alone down pat (Stanley 2018, 89).

Here’s the way it sounds in Ephesians:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Word order may not have meant much to the Greeks, but it means a lot in English, as do prepositions.

On the whole, the Reformed tradition emphasizes the “salvation by grace through faith” order of operations. God’s grace is what saves us (thank you, God!!), while faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not [yet] seen (Hebrews 11:1). That is, it’s more like the evidence than it is like the effective cause.

This might seem like a small point. But it seems to me like a really important one, too.

Because otherwise, it’s a little like putting the cart before the horse, or our own experiences before the realities they are experiences of. Which seems … backwards.

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World. ePub Edition. Zondervan, 2018.

staring up at the ceiling

2 responses to “Salvation by – Which Was That, Again?”

  1. Completely agree we cannot be saved without the grace of faith. Yet, still there’s more, even from Paul:
    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 COR 13:2
    Without the complement of love, “I am nothing.” There is no contradiction here. Faith gets us to the precipice. Love brings us home.


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